Category: Movies

RIP: William O’Connell

William O’Connell died on January 15, 2024.  He was 94.

Mr. O’Connell served in served in the Korean War as a 1st Lieutenant in the 45th Infantry.

William O’Connell acted in television and feature films.  His best known role was on Star Trek where he played Thelev, an alien whose mission was to kill Captain Kirk and destroy the Enterprise.  Mr. O’Connell was also a favorite of Clint Eastwood with appearances in five of his movies (Paint Your Wagon, High Plains Drifter, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Every Which Way But Loose and Any Which Way You Can).

Television appearances of William O’Connell include: Highway Patrol; Peter Gunn; Dr. Kildare; Thriller; The Twilight Zone; Dennis the Menace; The Travels of Jamie McPheeters; My Three Sons; The Outer Limits; Rawhide (2 episodes); Bonanza; The Alfred Hitchcock Hour; The Munsters; Batman; Pistols ‘n’ Petticoats; The Lucy Show; Ironside; Star Trek; Petticoat Junction (4 episodes); Mannix; Mission Impossible; Julia; The Wild, Wild West; Green Acres; Gunsmoke; Daniel Boone (3 episodes); Love American Style (2 episodes); The Odd Couple (2 episodes); Kolchak: The Night Stalker; Charlie’s Angels; Quncey, M.E. (2 episodes) and The Dukes of Hazzard.

Feature film appearances of William O’Connell include: Swingin’ Along; The Warlord; ice Station Zebra; Paint Your Wagon; Which Way to the Front; The Culpepper Cattle Co.; High Plains Drifter; Big Bad Mama; The Outlaw Josey Wales; Every Way But Loose and Any Which Way You Can.

William O’Connell was the quintessential character actor.  It’s hard to say when I first saw him because he appeared in so many of the television shows I watched as a kid.  If I had to pick a favorite William O’Connell role it would be either in Star Trek or The Outlaw Josey Wales.  On Star Trek he had the bigger part, but Mr. O’Connell was so memorable as the ferryman in Josey Wales that I had to also include it.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to William O’Connell’s family, friends and fans.

“The Mad Doctor of Market Street” (1942) / Z-View

The Mad Doctor of Market Street (1942)

Director:  Joseph H. Lewis

Screenplay: Al Martin

Stars: Una Merkel, Lionel Atwill, Nat Pendleton, Noble Johnson and John Eldredge

Tagline: GENIUS – OR FIEND?

The Plot…

Dr. Ralph Benson (Atwill) changes his name and boards a passenger ship after a man dies during one of Benson’s crazy experiments.  While on the ship Benson is recognized so he lures the man to a secluded area and throws him overboard.  A fire breaks out on the ship.  Benson and five others are the sole survivors.  Their lifeboat lands on an island populated by natives ready to kill them.

Benson learns that the Chief’s wife is on her deathbed.  Benson claims he can cure her.  When a shot of adrenaline revives the woman, the Chief thinks Benson has magical powers.  Benson sets himself up as a god.  He plans to continue his experiments starting with the other survivors.  Trapped on an island with a mad doctor and natives ready to kill them, the survivors have little chance for life.

Unless…

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

The Mad Doctor of Market Street is about what you’d expect for a low budget B film of the early 40s.  The murders are tame or appear off screen.  There’s an attempt at humor.  The one surprising thing and it is pretty grim even though it appears off screen is — BIG SPOILER ALERT — the fire that alerts the search party that there are survivors on the island comes from the natives burning the doctor alive!

The Mad Doctor of Market Street (1942) rates 2 of 5 stars.

“The Ministry Of Ungentlemanly Warfare” directed by Guy Ritchie; starring Henry Cavill, Eiza González & Alan Ritchson – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

Here we have the poster and trailer for The Ministry Of Ungentlemanly Warfare directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Henry Cavill, Eiza González and Alan Ritchson.

The Ministry Of Ungentlemanly Warfare – In theaters April 19. Starring Henry Cavill, Eiza González, Alan Ritchson, Alex Pettyfer, Hero Fiennes Tiffin, Babs Olusanmokun, Henrique Zaga, Til Schweiger, with Henry Golding, and Cary Elwes.

Based upon recently declassified files of the British War Department and inspired by true events, THE MINISTRY OF UNGENTLEMANLY WARFARE is an action-comedy that tells the story of the first-ever special forces organization formed during WWII by UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill and a small group of military officials including author Ian Fleming. The top-secret combat unit, composed of a motley crew of rogues and mavericks, goes on a daring mission against the Nazis using entirely unconventional and utterly “ungentlemanly” fighting techniques. Ultimately their audacious approach changed the course of the war and laid the foundation for the British SAS and modern Black Ops warfare.

“Synchronic” (2019) starring Anthony Mackie / Z-View

Synchronic (2019)

Director:  Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead

Screenplay: Justin Benson

Stars: Anthony Mackie, Jamie Dornan, Ally Ioannides and Ramiz Monsef

Tagline: Time is an illusion

The Plot…

Steve (Mackie) and Dennis (Dornan) are New Orleans paramedics.  Recently they’ve been getting calls where the victims have used a new street drug called Synchronic.  The drug often leaves the user incoherent or dead under unusual circumstances.  One person appeared to be victim of a sword fight, another died from the bite of a poisonous snake not found in the state and yet another was found stabbed with an ancient sword.

While at a local smoke shop, Steve is able to purchase several Synchronic pills.  A man claims to be the chemist who invented Synchronic attempts to buy the pills from Steve.  He offers much more than Steve paid.  The chemist wants to destroy the pills. Later Steve learns that the chemist believes the pills allow young people who take Synchronic to easily travel through time.  Adults, because of their body chemistry, have problems when taking the pills.

When Dennis’ daughter (Ioannides) doesn’t come home and can’t be found, Dennis and Steve learn she was last seen at a party where Synchronic was available.  Steve believes that the only hope to find her is to take the Synchronic himself…

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

I like well done time travel films and Synchronic qualifies.

Anthony Mackie is always good and this outing is no exception.  Ally Ioannides doesn’t have a lot to do, but I enjoyed seeing her.  She’s grown up since Into the Badlands.

The Invisible Woman (1940) / Z-View

The Invisible Woman (1940)

Director:  A. Edward Sutherland

Screenplay: Robert Lees, Frederic I. Rinaldo, Gertrude Purcell, story by Curt Siodmak, Joe May

Stars: Virginia Bruce, John Barrymore, John Howard, Oscar Homolka, Donald MacBride, Margaret Hamilton, Charles Lane, Mary Gordon  and Shemp Howard.

Tagline: The YEAR’S FUNNIEST FUN!

The Plot…

Richard Russell (Howard) has always used part of his wealth to fund eccentric Professor Gibbs’ (Barrymore) inventions.  When Gibbs comes up with a method to turn people invisible he needs a test subject.  Out-of-work model, Kitty Carroll (Bruce) volunteers.  When gangsters learn of the device, they decide to steal it.  Kitty, Professor Gibbs and Richard are in over their heads.

Let the fun begin!

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

The Invisible Woman was a 1942 Oscar Nominee for Best Special Effects.

If at times John Barrymore seems to be looking past who he’s talking to or in different directions as he speaks, it’s because cue cards were placed in strategic locations around the room.  Sadly Barrymore’s alcoholism had taken a toll.

Watch for Shemp Howard as the gangster named Frankie!  Margaret Hamilton of Wizard of Oz fame also has a supporting role.

The Invisible Woman (1940) earns 3 of 5 stars.

“Road House” starring Jake Gyllenhall & Connor McGregor – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

Yes, the original Road House is a cult classic.  Yes, Gyllenhall is going to be roasted when compared to Swayze.  Yet, with all that said, I like the looks of the poster and (especially) the trailer for the updated Road House.  Connor McGregor looks to be an excellent villain.

In this adrenaline-fueled reimagining of the 80s cult classic, ex-UFC fighter Dalton (Jake Gyllenhaal) takes a job as a bouncer at a Florida Keys roadhouse, only to discover that this paradise is not all it seems. Road House is open for business March 21 on @primevideo.

“In the Shadow of the Moon” (2019) starring Boyd Holbrook, Cleopatra Coleman & Bokeem Woodbine / Z-View

In the Shadow of the Moon (2019)

Director:  Jim Mickle

Screenplay: Gregory Weidman, Geoff Tock

Stars: Boyd Holbrook, Cleopatra Coleman, Bokeem Woodbine, Michael C. Hall, Tony Craig and Rachel Keller.

Tagline: Some Crimes Defy Time

The Plot…

The year is 1988.  Three people in different locations bleed from their ears and eyes and then die.  Police officers Lockhart (Holbrook) and Maddox (Woodbine) along with Detective Holt (Hall) are assigned to the case.  Lockhart discovers similar wounds on each victim.  The trail leads Lockhart and Maddox to a suspect in the subway.  She is a young, African-American female who tells Lockhart details she shouldn’t know about his life.  She tells him the date his wife will have a baby.  She further predicts her own death.  When Lockhart attempts to arrest her, a struggle ensues.  She is thrown in front of subway car and dies.

Nine years later people begin dying after bleeding from their ears and eyes.  Lockhart, now a Detective, believes that a copy cat killer is at large.  But when he locates a suspect, he is shocked to discover it is the same woman as before.  She didn’t die and hasn’t aged.

Why are these people being killed?  Is the killer a time traveler?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

The film has an interesting premise and starts off well enough.  Along the way I began to lose interest.  I finished the movie but just found it to be okay.

Boyd Holbrook, Cleopatra Coleman, Bokeem Woodbine deserved better.

In the Shadow of the Moon (2019) earns 2 of 5 stars.

“Pickup” (1951) directed by Hugo Haas, starring Hugo Haas & Beverly Michaels / Z-View

Pickup (1951)

Director:  Hugo Haas

Screenplay: Hugo Haas, Arnold Phillips based on GUARD No. 47 by Josef Kopta

Stars: Hugo Haas, Beverly Michaels, Howland Chamberlain, Art Lewis and Bernard Gorcey.

Tagline: Easy to “pick-up” – but you won’t – if you know what’s good for you!

The Plot…

Jan “Hunky” Horak (Haas) is a middle-aged widowed railroad dispatcher who works alone at an isolated water stop.  When Hunky takes his first day off in a year, he heads in to town.  He’s surprised to find a carnival set up.  As Hunky walks through the amusements, he is targeted by Betty (Michaels), an attractive blonde.

Betty figures to get a free meal and maybe a couple of bucks from the old guy.  Betty is broke and about to be evicted.  When she learns Hunky has several thousand in his savings account she works him into marrying her.  Betty knows that if Hunky dies… or is killed, the money is hers.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

The Pickup has a classic set-up.  A gold-digger has plans to end her older husband’s life to take sole possession of all he owns.  Along the way we’re treated to an interesting twist that alerts Hunky to his wife’s plans.  Up until the very end it felt like we were getting a poor man’s The Postman Always Rings Twice or Double Indemnity.  The ending isn’t bad, just not quite in line with the noir that had been set up.

Hugo Haas is perfect as Hunky.  Beverly Michaels is also just right as Betty, the girl that’s easy to pick-up at your own risk.  Watch for Bernard Gorcey (of The Bowery Boys fame) in a small role.

Pickup (1951) earns 3 of 5 stars.

“The Prince of Pennsylvania” (2015) / Z-View

The Prince of Pennsylvania (2015)

Director:  Jesse Vile

Stars: Mark Schultz, John du Pont, Robbie Calabrese, Dave Schultz.

Tagline: None

The Plot…

Multimillionaire, John DuPont wanted to create a mecca for US amateur wrestlers. He recruited the best and they were on their way.  Then DuPont killed their best athlete.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

DuPont created a training facility that was state of the art.  He invited the best wrestlers from across the country to live and train there for free.  Using filmed interviews and never-before-seen footage we get access to life there and DuPont’s gradual decline that lead to murder.

The Prince of Pennsylvania (2015) earns 4 of 5 stars.

RIP: Norman Jewison

Norman Jewison died on January 20, 2024.  He was 97.

Norman Jewison served in the Royal Canadian Navy during World War II,  After the war, Mr. Jewison attended Victoria College in the University of Toronto.  He graduated with a B.A. in 1949.

He then moved to London where he worked as a bit actor and script writer for children’s programing.  He moved back to Canada in 1951.  He got work as a writer, director and producer of musicals, comedy-variety shows, dramas, and specials for the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation).

In 1958, Norman Jewison began working for NBC, directing Your Hit Parade and The Andy WIlliams Show.  Specials for Harry Belafonte, Jackie Gleason, Danny Kaye and Judy Garland followed.  The first feature film that Mr. Jewison directed was 40 Pounds of Trouble starring Tony Curtis, Phil Silvers and Suzanne Pleshette.  For the remainder of his career, Norman Jewison alternated between television projects and feature films.

Norman Jewison was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director three times.  Films he directed were nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award four times.

Television projects directed by Norman Jewison include: The Big Review; Your Hit Parade (2 episodes); The Chevy Showroom Starring Andy Williams (3 episodes); The Big Party (2 episodes); An Hour with Danny Kaye; Belafonte, New York 19; The Judy Garland Show and Dinner with Friends.

Feature films directed by Norman Jewison include: 40 Pounds of Trouble; The Cincinnati Kid; The Russians Are Coming the Russians are Coming; In the Heat of the Night; The Thomas Crown Affair; Fiddler on the Roof; Jesus Christ Superstar; Rollerball; F.I.S.T.; And Justice For All; Best Friends; A Soldier’s Story; Agnes of God; Moonstruck and The Hurricane.

Norman Jewison could direct any genre of movie.  My favorite Norman Jewison films are In the Heat of the Night, F.I.S.T., And Justice for All and A Soldier’s Story.  They are so good, it’s tough to pick just one and don’t sleep on any of his films!

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Norman Jewison’s family, friends and fans.